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“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”
This quote was first published in 1841 in Scottish author Charles Mackay’s book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and it seems particularly apposite as we come to the end of a year in which we are beginning to see the impact of two years of lockdowns writ large across the world’s log-jammed economies and our own knackered immune systems.
Perhaps more worrying, though, is that 2022 may mark the end of a much longer period of distemper, which began in 2008, and we are only beginning to see the impact of that descent into madness. It comes in the form of sticky inflation, falling house prices, stuck wages and a vast gap between the lives and outcomes of those whose assets have been inflated by government policy since the global financial crisis and those who bring them parcels, nurse their sick and have ‘deplorable’ voting habits.
It was with this rather bleak hypothesis in mind that I chose Ruffer Investment Company (RICA) for my top pick for 2022, this time last year.
Since then, the trust has delivered a share price total return of 7.46% in absolute terms, putting it, by a margin of more than 19%, ahead of its nearest rival in the team’s choices for the year. The smug sense of superiority this provides as I write these words almost makes up for the fact that I decided to sell RICA in February and bought a house instead, just as a multi-decade housing boom went into reverse.
We are all prophets with hindsight, though, and with that in mind it’s time to have another go…
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